A Bully’s Redemption Song

Here’s to the accidental line-cutters, who pivot, who realize, who own up and move back. Here’s to ex-boyfriends who fight to become friends. Here’s to all dropped and cracked open things and then here’s to their glue. The angry brow releasing into admission. The righteous speech digesting its own intensity. The tirade ballooning into a “sorry.”

Artwork by Annie Vought; annievought.com

Artwork by Annie Vought; annievought.com

Somewhere redemption grows in the ground, stems gather into hands, and people test out reversals. People show up at doorsteps.
People buy chocolates and somehow don’t eat them all immediately. Even in the most ridiculous of disputes- the no-you-take-out-the-trash’s and the omg-fuck-football’s. Somewhere people choose people when they could just as easily choose comfort, vice, tradition, lunch.

And somewhere else, snickering coats like a kerosine across my high school skin. A classroom empties and fills repeatedly with holes. I am cornered into a self I never wanted to own and here we are parading the starkest clichés. The mean jaws of the bully and birdcage of the victim. The days patter me in insults. The contents of someone’s lunch launch repeatedly at my head.

But here’s to the day you sat on the floor beside me and asked if I was okay. Here’s to the letter you scrawled with a sharpie in my yearbook when we graduated. The apology you surrendered. The jaws you ground up into soil.

In a number of ways I tested out this “okay” you spoke of, crawled inside its trap door, looked around a while, and decided it was time to stay. Scabbed knees suckling back the purplest hurt, becoming yet again soft and lunar.

Somewhere I am knotted into a cinched torso, crying or fuming or cursing in public, facing yet another way the world wants to meld me into corners. Someone has said something or someone has taken something or some customer has swallowed me whole. And the teeth! They keep rising from the even softest places.

But then I think of you. I remember that sharpied defiance- the permanent impermanence in all things, even expectation. Even cruelty. Even this.

So here’s to every person who knows this, sees the ghostly march of rotted words and erases, erases, erases. 


Makes a sharp wrong right.

Feature photo by Sean Brown VIA Unsplash.